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Archive for November, 2011

Religious Tolerance in Egyptian Protests

Disclaimer: This is not my photo. I downloaded this from a friend’s wall who had shared it from their friend’s wall. The photo was public.  My main source of information was the caption beneath this picture.  While I have not verified this, I have no reason to believe it’s not legitimate.

This photo was reportedly taken from the protests that were taking place in Egypt, where police crackdowns were also occurring.  This is a picture of Muslims at the protest performing daily prayers, and Christians holding hands around them to protect the Muslims from the police violence while they wee praying. 

I think this is a powerful photo.  With all people’s talk about the violence and divisiveness that pervades the Middle East, I think this photo underscores a poweful message.  If this photo speaks to the future of the Middle East, then there is abundant cause for hope.  It nearly brought tears to my eyes with happiness. 

I will admit that later, I experienced a bit of sadness when I thought about the poem, realizing that in many places in the United States, where we claim to be so open-minded and accepting as opposed to the rest of the world, I am not sure that this have happened, that many Christian Americans would have been so ready to protect Muslim Americans, and I pray in the future that may change and that we may take a lesson from this photo. 

We must protect and care for one another, no matter of what faith.  What binds us together can be stronger than what divides.  As Jesus has said, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”, we must protect others’ rights to worship, as we want ours to be.  And most importantly:  we are all Children of God.

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Thanksgiving has come and gone.  At our house, and perhaps it’s also true at your house, we go around and give thankfuls.  Thanksgiving is a time where we think, “What are we grateful to God for?”

I’ve been suffering from debilitating headaches for the past two months, they have always been apart of my life,  but never have they stopped me from living my daily activities to such a degree.  It wouldn’t have been too hard to be grumpy at Thanksgiving, to think, what am I supposed to thank God for?  That I can’t work…?  That I can’t see my friends…?  That I’m a burden on my family…?  And yet…I found that those were none of the things that came to my mind.

I am grateful for my family’s patience.  I am grateful for my neurologist’s care and skill.  I am grateful for the friends who ask how I’m doing, and I’m also grateful for the friends who will ask me about things other than my headaches.  I am grateful for my sisters and the joy they bring in my life.  I am grateful that God has brought and kept my best friends in my life when I have needed them most.  I am grateful that there is food in my closet and heat in my house.  I am grateful for the country I live in, where despite the fact that I have been born a woman, I am allowed to read and learn to my heart’s content, and am able to live with autonomy.  I am grateful for the church I am in that will allow me to recognize my dream of being a minister, even though I am a woman.  I am grateful for countless things and all the blessings that God has seen fit to give me, but above all, I am grateful to God for being with me through every step of the journey.

And with that, how can I not give thanks?

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If I understand correctly, the term “values voter” was first coined with the reelection of George Bush in 2004.  An exit poll asked voters what was their most important issue, among issues like the Iraq War, the economy, and healthcare was a choice of “moral values”.  Around 22% of the people chose moral values, and around 80% of those people voted for George Bush.  Implicit in this flawed poll was the assumption that the economy and the Iraq war were not choices based on moral values, as opposed to issues like abortion or gay marriage (it is worth noting that a later poll, which asked people to choose which moral values issue was most important to them, drastically more people chose the economy or Iraq over abortion or gay marriage).

However this came about, “values voter” has come to be associated with “conservative Christian”.  Values issues have a very narrow circle in people’s mind: abortion, gay marriage, contraception, stem cell research, et cetera.  A recent values voter summit was basically synonymous with “conservative/Republican values voter summit”.  Much of America, including the media, has accepted that “values voter” means “Religious Right Christian”.

I think it’s time to change that.

I’m a liberal Christian, and just because I plan on voting for Obama in November doesn’t mean I don’t have values.  Gay marriage is one of my values’ issues, but it’s because my values teach me that all people should receive equal treatment under the law and that families that are bound together by love should be celebrated and are an asset to this country, doesn’t matter the gender of the parents.  Foreign policy is a values issue for me because I believe that before all else God wants us to live in peace with one another and for each person to be able to live with dignity, human rights is a values issue.  The economy is a values issue, how is it right to treat people?  What should we be spending our money on?  Do I want someone who’s going to spend my tax dollars on the military budget or on social programs to help fight policy?  Both those choices reflect values (for more on values and the budget, please see my earlier post, “Budgets as Values”).  My stances on the issues are influenced by my values, which might be different from the values that the person next to me has and that will reflect in their politics.  Liberals are values voters too, even if they have different values.

There is no limit, no special set, for what are values issues.  A values issue is any political issue where your opinion comes from your values, and almost all of our opinions have some root in our values, whether we think about it consciously or not.  I’m a values voter, because I vote based on my values, even if those values are different from the Religious Right.  To say that only the Religious Right Christians are values voters is to imply that the rest of America doesn’t have values (which I’m sure a number of conservative Christians do believe).  We do, they might be different from yours, or have a slightly different perspective, but they’re still values and they still matter.  It’s time that everyone’s values are given equal credence in the public debate and that people admit that values voters aren’t just conservatives.

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